Nurses Week message from Chief Nursing Officer Doug Mitchell

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The following message is from Doug Mitchell, WVU Medicine-WVU Hospitals vice president and chief nursing officer:

Dear Nurses and all Nursing Services team members,

Happy Nurses Week!

These are interesting times for nurses in West Virginia and the United States. The recent gaffe by the state senator from Washington illustrates how little she (and very likely many other leaders) knows about what we do and the value we deliver, day in and day out.

We make a real difference in the lives of those we serve, and need more men and women to join our profession. The ongoing nurse shortage is projected to last for years, particularly as Baby Boomers age (10,000 turning 65 every day!) and require more healthcare. The poor health of citizens, exacerbated by the crushing substance addiction epidemic, is also contributing.

What does it mean to be a nurse today? Is it ability to perform dressing changes, administer medication, manipulate complex machines, orchestrate care, keep patients safe, advocate for patients? What about nurse burnout and compassion fatigue? Nearly four out of 10 newly licensed nurses are thinking about leaving their jobs. In addition, the healthcare worker injury rate is 30 times higher than other industries. That’s not a typo!

In spite of these challenges, it is still great to be a nurse. It’s our country’s most trusted profession. I say often, and believe in my soul, that nursing done well – with mind, body, and heart – is as noble as anything a person can do. It’s also so rewarding and even fun when we have the support and resources we need.

Nurses Week is a great time to reflect about our career choice. Why did I become nurse? Is my practice consistent with my initial vision of myself as a nurse? Have I lost passion for patients in this complex healthcare setting, in my complex life? Am I happy?

Nurses Week is also a great time to celebrate! We recognize that building joy in our work can keep us from suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue. So have fun participating in some of the unit-based and house-wide activities planned for the week! More importantly, use the time to celebrate you – the kind, caring, and competent nurse that you are. Use the time to rededicate yourself as the nurse that you envisioned. Use the time to commit to actively maintaining your own health and wellness. Love and appreciate yourself!

Enjoy the week and thanks for all you give. It is truly appreciated!

Doug